Nasr and Ericsson likely to retain Sauber F1 seats for 2017

(From left) Felipe Nasr and Marcus Ericsson seen in the paddock ahead of the 2016 Singapore GP. (Photo: Andy Hone/LAT Photographic)

With seats at other F1 teams filling up, Marcus Ericsson and Felipe Nasr are now both set to stay at Sauber next year, and both men indicate that they view the Swiss team as an “attractive” option.

The two drivers had been on the list of possibilities for the likes of Force India and Renault, whose lineups are now complete. They are now both confident that Sauber’s recruitment drive indicates that the team will make good progress next year.

“There are not many options out there now, so it’s more likely now for sure,” said Ericsson. “Nothing is done yet, before anything is done, I cannot say anything. But for sure there are not many other options and, like I said before, as well Sauber is moving in the right direction and has a lot of good signings, not only for this year, but also for next year. So it’s definitely an attractive option for me. I don’t know what the situation is yet, but hopefully soon I will know. Before it’s done, you can never be sure.

“For me, if you look back a couple of months ago, I think Sauber was maybe not the most attractive option, because we were struggling a lot in the middle of the year and it looked quite difficult. But now we’ve developed a lot in the second half of the season as a team, and I think the Sauber team is going to be stronger and stronger looking forward. So for me it’s definitely more attractive now.”

“I always said that Sauber was always an option,” said Nasr. “It’s still an attractive place to be, and I think that the team has been getting a lot of new people on board, has been restructured, and it’s on the way up. I only see things changing for good. A lot of the focus is already on 2017, I know there are a lot of inputs coming in, and it will be a lot different from this year.”

Asked if he had a deal ready to sign, he said: “There are people taking care of this, I’m not fully aware of that, but as I said it’s still a place that I never discarded this place.”

Both drivers also insist that they have no concerns about the team losing out through lack of development of the 2016 power unit that it will use next year.

“I think that when I first heard it I was a bit worried about the team taking that decision,” said Ericsson. “But then I spoke to a lot of people both on track and in the factory, and they were all convinced that it was the right thing to do, because they think there is so much more to develop on the chassis side. And they haven’t been able to explore the last couple of years, because of the budget problems they’ve had. With that in mind I trust the guys on the technical side of the team that it’s the right thing to do.

“I wouldn’t say I’m worried, I’ve been supporting the team on that,” said Nasr. “As I said there is a lot more we can benefit on the platform side of the car, on the chassis, aerodynamic gains. There’s a whole new year next year in terms of regulation, and the cars being changed. It’s going to be quite a big impact in terms of the aero performance of the car. I think this year we left things a bit on the side on this area, so I fully support the team on this.”

Meanwhile, Ericsson insisted that moving to another team was a serious possibility, despite his sponsors also being the new owners of Sauber: “I think that the project around me is for me to be as successful as possible as a driver, and be in as good machinery as possible. The connections to me or not, it’s other things. The project around me started when I was 15 years old and it was for me to be as successful as possible as a racing driver, that’s why it’s always important for me and my management to always look for the best possible drive for me as a driver.”